Walking may reduce knee pain in older adults

Yunming Want/Unsplash

A new study has revealed that walking for exercise can reduce new frequent knee pain among those adults aged 50 and older who are diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. In addition, the research found that walking may be an effective treatment to slow the damage that occurs within the joint.

The study, published in the journal, Arthritis & Rheumatology, was led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Investigators assessed the results of the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a multi-year observational study where participants self-reported the amount of time and frequency they walked for exercise. Researchers focused on four outcomes from baseline to 48-month visits using frequent knee pain and radiographic severity on posterior-anterior semi-flexed knee radiographs: new frequent knee pain, Kellgren-Lawrence grade worsening, medial joint space narrowing, and improved frequent knee pain.

Participants who reported 10 or more instances of exercise from the age of 50 years or later were classified as “walkers” and those who reported less were classified as “non-walkers.”  

Those who reported walking for exercise had 40 percent decreased odds of new frequent knee pain compared to non-walkers.

 “These findings are particularly useful for people who have radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis but don’t have pain every day in their knees,” said Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, MD, MS, assistant professor of immunology, allergy, and rheumatology at Baylor in a statement. “This study supports the possibility that walking for exercise can help to prevent the onset of daily knee pain.  It might also slow down the worsening of damage inside the joint from osteoarthritis.”